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Friday, February 1, 2013

Massachusetts Bishop Robert J. McManus Squelches Frank Discussion of Islam

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts invited author Robert Spencer to a Catholic men's conference to be held in March. Bishop Robert J. McManus then ordered that the invitation to Robert Spencer be rescinded. Public statements from the diocese indicate that Spencer's invitation was withdrawn because Bishop Robert J. McManus wanted to please Muslims, did not want to offend Muslims, and did not want any trouble from Muslims.

The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reported:

"Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, the organizer of the conference … said Bishop Robert J. McManus pulled the invitation to avoid a controversy. He said Bishop McManus opted to withdraw the invitation 'rather than undergo a media outcry.' 'I was not looking for a problem,' he said. 'The bishop felt that by disinviting him we would be avoiding a problem in casting a bad light on Christian-Islamic relations.'"

Robert Spencer, a devout Catholic, who has published a guide to Islam for Catholics, published by a Catholic publisher, has been refused permission to speak about Islam to Catholics at a Catholic conference because Muslims complained.

Bishop McManus' decision reeks of cowardice.

Bishop McManus' decision is a flagrant announcement of a lack of integrity.

And that's not all. Counterintuitively, Bishop McManus' decision is bad for Muslims.

That's right. Declaring any frank, public discussion of Islam to be taboo is bad for Muslims.

Free speech is the best friend American Muslims have.

Thanks to free speech, we get to talk things out. We don't have to allow troubling matters to simmer below the surface, going unaddressed, festering, and, eventually, exploding.

But free speech about Islam is rendered taboo by cowards and by the Politically Correct.

Serious discussion of Islam is all but banned on college campuses, in churches, and in much journalism.

Those denied the right to speak about Islam begin to view Muslims as bullies who enjoy special protections denied their own faiths. We all know you can say any vile thing you want about Catholicism. Resentments spring up.

Suspicion proliferates. Average people sense that the powers-that-be are not telling them the truth about Islam. Denied open debate, discontentment is driven underground. I've witnessed these underground discussions of Islam, and they are disturbing. Extremists say extreme things. "We can't trust the government on this. It's every man for himself." These extremists would be robbed of their power if responsible parties on college campuses, in journalism, and in the church allowed free and frank discussion of Islam. We are risking explosion, an explosion that will be bad for everyone, including Muslims.

As a Catholic, I am appalled by Bishop McManus' decision. I learned in Catholic school that my faith would be tested by the world, and that, no matter the test, God would give me the courage to proclaim my faith, and not submit to others, even unto a martyr's death, if necessary. I was taught that a martyr's death was nothing to shun, but a privilege to be embraced. I admired martyrs from the ancients like Prisca and Blandina to modern martyrs like Maximilian Kolbe and Jerzy Popieluszko. Martyrs, ancient and modern, braved torture for their Christian faith. Bishop McManus caved in to letters written to him by disgruntled Muslims. Sad.

Catholics should protest Bishop McManus' wrongheaded decision to attempt to silence Robert Spencer.

Contact information:

Diocese Spokesman Raymond Delisle:

Bishop Robert McManus:

Diocese of Worcester: 508-791-7171

More details on this story here.

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting. I've never found serious and deep conversation about Islam to be banned or "controversial" on college campuses. In fact, a vast majority of what i've learned about Islam and Muslims come from fellow students who I asked questions of.

    Forums are not needed, sensational journalism is not needed.

    In order to understand something, ask someone.

    Everything else is just loud noise.